13 Sep 2006

Nelson… In a Life Preserver!

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Socialism is the philosophy of sissies, and now that everyone (including Socialists) recognizes that Socialism applied economically is a disaster, the energies of ameliorists tend to find outlet, not in the levelling of wealth, but in the elimination of any imaginable form of risk.

The New York Times reports that even Bill Callaghan, head of Britain’s Health and Safety Commission

believes that many of the decisions made in the name of health and safety in Britain are indeed asinine. These include schools requiring children to wear protective goggles when playing with nuts that have fallen from trees; schools banning bandages because of fears of latex allergies; and village fairs forbidding people to sell homemade cakes in case they contain contaminated eggs.

But the commission is blamed for them anyway. It set up a myth-busting page on its Web site explaining, for instance, that it was not involved in the decision last April to cancel a St. George’s Day breakfast in Wiltshire, after local officials ruled that the volunteer cooks were not formally trained in egg preparation…

Children who leave their coats and bags in special containers on field trips to the Science Museum in London, for example, are instructed by posted signs not to put anything on the lids, on account of Health and Safety rules. People buying cups of tea on British trains are ordered to carry them in paper bags for safety reasons — whether they want to or not.

Sailing down the placid Thames a year ago as part of the celebration marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, the actor playing Lord Nelson was required to accessorize his vintage admiral’s outfit with a contemporary life preserver, which tended to spoil the effect.

Nor are the Health and Safety Commission offices, at the end of Southwark Bridge in East London, immune to dispensing their own cautionary advice. Along with security passes, visitors are issued photocopied pamphlets offering instructions on how to identify the sound of the fire alarm (a “continuous ringing of bells”); where to go if a fire does break out (convene at the location marked on the map on the back); and what to do if they feel sick or fall down (there is a first-aid room on the first floor; all injuries, “no matter how minor,” must be reported).

Do you suppose Etonians are still allowed to play the Wall Game?

Hat tip to Frank Dobbs.


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